The Mediterranean Diet: More Good News?

The Mediterranean Diet has been the topic of many research studies in that it performs very well as far as giving us health benefits associated with prevention of many chronic diseases. This time its cognitive ability as well as a reduced risk of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Bottom Line?

  • A study finds that the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet may include a reduced chance of developing dementia and memory loss.
  • Specifically, the diet appears to lower the level of amyloid and tau proteins that are linked with dementia.
  • People following the Mediterranean diet scored better on memory tests than those who were not following the diet.

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Got Milk?

“Indeed, the already booming nut-milk industry is projected to see continuous growth. Much of this is driven by beliefs about health, with ads claiming “dairy free” as a virtue that resonates for nebulous reasons—many stemming from an earlier scare over saturated fat—among consumers lactose intolerant and tolerant alike.”

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Various fresh dairy products on wooden background

Does Diet Affect our Risk of Chronic Disease?

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are conditions that are strongly related to the development of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and other diseases leading to disabilities and death in the U.S. today. The following are types of foods that increase inflammation: oxidative stress, or both.

Decreased: Colorful fruits and vegetables, dried beans, whole grain, fish and seafood, red wines, dark chocolate, olive oil, nuts, coffee.

Increased: Processed and high-fat meats, high-fat dairy products, baked products, snack foods with trans fats, soft drinks, other high-sugar beverages.

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Dash For the Dash?

“The prevalence and severity of today’s hypertension crisis cannot be overstated. Too many people over ages 65 and 75 have dangerously elevated systolic blood pressure. On the basis of the available evidence, we can roughly estimate years of life lost attributable to hypertension. From the data we were able to collect and analyze, we estimate that approximately 37,712,740 years of life may have been lost between 1980 and 2014 due to hypertension as an underlying cause in adults aged 45 to 85+ years.”

Source: Add Five More Years with One Therapy, Life Extension, The Science of a Healthier Life”. Executive Summary, 2021

Blood pressure has typically been measured by a doctor visit and if needed, the patient is given at least one (or two) prescriptions for lowering your blood pressure if necessary)(like a diuretic, e.g.) These drugs have served us fairly well in blood pressure control; however, one therapy is hardly mentioned as part of prevention or treatment along with the proper drug therapy, that if followed could enhance this goal.

That would be a diet that has been tested by research and shows up in the popular media as the second most popular diet known as the DASH Diet (Dietary Approach to STOP Hypertension not only for weight control but for blood pressure control also. In the list below, hypertensive disease ranked third as the top underlying medical conditions linked with COVID-19 deaths often associated with a more severe infection.

The following are the top underlying medical conditions linked with COVID-19 deaths.

* Influenza and pneumonia

* Respiratory failure

* Hypertensive disease

*  Diabetes

* Vascular and unspecified dementia

* Cardiac Arrest

* Heart failure

* Renal failure

* Intentional and unintentional injury, poisoning and other adverse events

* Other medical conditions

For more on the DASH CLICK HERE.

Turmeric/Curcumin: The Facts

Turmeric is a spice that has long been recognized for its medicinal properties and has received interest from both the medical/scientific community and as well from culinary enthusiasts as it is the major source of the polyphenol, curcumin (a phytochemical).

It aids in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol).

In addition, a relatively low dose can provide health benefits for healthy people. Its drawback is its problem with poor absorption; therefore, it should be used with foods to enhance this issue. Some supplements contain compounds known to increase absorption – one is a component of black pepper.

Turmeric is a staple in India, where most of it originates. It is the spice that gives food its flavor color. It is use in curries and is especially good on scrambled eggs and omelettes. It can be used as a supplement, but it’s best as a food since curcumin is only one of a family of what is called curcuminoids that may also contain beneficial components.

Turmeric is known for alleviating arthritis and joint inflammation. In one study, it was found to be virtually as effective as an anti-inflammatory medicine (without the side effects). Curcumin has been claimed to be a cancer fighter. There are at least 30 published studies that indicate that it has an anti-tumor effect that reduced the number or size of tumors in animal studies. One study in 2006 found that it inhibited the growth of human colon cancer cells (cell culture study, I presume).

Curcumin lowers cholesterol in animals and humans suggesting it may be heart healthy. Other studies have shown antioxidant capabilities. In a rat study, a group of rats treated with curcumin provided significant protection from cataracts (Induced by a powerful oxidizing chemical.)

For more on this fascinating spice,

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Snacking and the Dietary Guidelines

Snacking has become a popular habit among children and teenagers At the same time, overweight and obesity have reached huge proportions, affecting young individuals. Snacking has been considered one of the main contributors to overweight because of the increased consumption of energy-dense, high-sugar, high-fat foods.

Snacking is promoted by food ads to children and adolescents and one look at our supermarket foods completes the picture. When I taught nutrition courses at the college level, most of my students would come to class with their favorite bag of snacks in hand. Ironically, the class objectives were hopefully to learn about healthy diets. It was hard to compete against the influences of the “big food” industry ubiquitous in our food environment.

No wonder we have an obesity problem. Don’t count on the latest Dietary Guidelines 2020 for help. Enough said?

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UNHEALTHY PROCESSED FOOD AND SNACKS CAN LEAD TO OBESITY

In the News: Cruciferous Vegetables

Greater Cruciferous Vegetable Intake Associated with less Aortic Calcification

To Define:

“Aortic calcification, also known as aortic valve calcification (or sclerosis) is a condition where large calcium deposits get accumulated in the aorta of the heart. These calcium deposits can cause the opening of the aortic valve to become narrow and reduce the flow of blood to the heart resulting in chest pain and heart attack.”

“Aorta – the main artery of the body, supplying oxygenated blood to the circulatory system. In humans. “

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed an association between an increased intake of Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables and less extensive abdominal aortic calcification (AAC defined above) in older women. The study population included 684 women with a mean age of 75 who previously had enrolled in the Calcium Intake Fracture Outcome Study (1998) conducted at the University of Western Australia. Diet intake questionnaires were given to participants and calcification detected as extensive or not extensive was determined by imaging techniques.

A correlation was observed between greater cruciferous vegetable intake and a reduction of AAC. Women whose intake of the vegetables was more than 44.6 grams a day (equivalent of 1/4 cup of steamed broccoli or 1/2 cup of raw cabbage had a 46% lowered adjusted risk of extensive AAC, compared to those whose intake was less than 15 grams a day. Total vegetable intake, including other types of vegetables, was not related with risk.

Interestingly, cruciferous vegetables have had positive results with lessening disease risk not only in heart calcification but in cancer prevention. Vegetables in this family not only include broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, but bok choy, kale, kolrabi, and Swiss chard. These vegetables are excellent sources of a family of anticancer phytochemicals called isothocynates that fight cancer by neutralizing carcinogens.

Broccoli also contains high levels of a phytochemical called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane increases the activation of enzymes known as phase-2 enzymes, which help fight carcinogens. According to the Department of Urology at Stanford University published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, sulforaphane is the most potent inducer of phase-2 enzymes of any phytochemical known to date.

SOURCE: Life Extension, February, 2021

Bowden, Jonny, Ph.D., C.N.S. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, 2007

Food Additives and Obesity

“Artificial preservatives used in many processed foods could increase the risk of inflammatory bowel diseases and metabolic disorders, according to research published on 25 February in Nature1. In a study done in mice, chemicals known as emulsifiers were found to alter the make-up of bacteria in the colon — the first time that these additives have been shown to affect health directly.”

The search continues for what factors in the Standard American diet (SAD) can be implicated beyond the amount alone that people consume, that are causative of the current obesity/diabesity epidemic.

Researchers continue to look at the lengthy ingredient lists on ultra-processed foods. As Western-type diet are utilized more and more globally, their obesity rates continue to rise. Is there a connection?

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UNHEALTHY PROCESSED FOOD AND SNACKS CAN LEAD TO OBESITY